This years 2005 to 2016 El Niño season will bring comfort to some areas of the West Coast, while at the same time spreading misery. How can it do both? Well for starters California has been going through a record drought, ironically this drought began after the record El Niño season of 1997 to 1998. Yet while the rains are sure to come, giving relief to the record drought, this years El Niño season is predicted by most forecast models to be a record breaking El Niño season.
The reason is The tropical East Pacific has been heating up since 2014, and it has not heated up this much since the record breaking 1997 to 1998 El Niño season, or a roughly 15 year period. The west-to-east temperature differential across the Pacific Ocean basin has drastically risen. Even the atmosphere is pointing towards a torrential El Niño season. Patterns are emerging that have not been seen since the recording breaking El Niño season. Between the observed pattern of ocean temperature change, and prevailing winds, and atmospheric effects, the Pacific ocean is currently in a perpetual “La Niña-like” state, much like what we saw in 1997, but what is being seen today far out weighs what was seen in 1997.
This could mean torrential, record breaking rains to much of the West coast, plus Texas. California is already seeing the effects of this years “La Niña-like” state, as two highways had to shut down due to mud slides, after torrential rains fell. The mudslides were so severe that they buried several cars and trucks under a slew of mud, water and muck. In fact Federal climate forecasters are predicting a winter long El Niño season, at a 95% chance. Just about every forecast model is signaling that this El Niño season could be one of the strongest ever recorded in history, even out performing the infamous “Godzilla” El Niño of 1997 to 1998. Currently the El Niño ranks third in strength, but this is expected to only grow in sheer power as time passes.
This of course means some areas of the west coast could receive rainfall on epic proportions. We are talking flood stage rainfall here, and mudslides, maybe even intense hail and winds. While these rains if they come might help to offset the current drought in California, the damage this El Niño could do would out weigh any benefit, even relief to the current drought. Experts also say that even if the El Niño offers some relief to the drought, drought conditions could return in subsequent years.
If you reside anywhere on the west coast,or Texas, and especially if you live by any body of water, you should make plans in case of flooding. If these rains do come, as predicted, it will lead to immense property damage, and possibly the loss of life in the affected states. Remember never to drive in water more than a few inches high, since as little as 6 inches of water can carry a car away, and as little as 9 inches to a foot can carry away a truck. Make sure you have an evacuation route planned.